What CrossFit Can Teach You About Success

CrossFitIf a colleague told you a project was going to be a “slam-dunk,” you’d probably think your prospects for getting it done are excellent!! Similarly, if your manager tells you it’s “gonna take a Hail Mary” to save the business, you get that too. Even if you’re not a fan, sports metaphors are so pervasive that it’s hard to miss their meaning or lessons. Up to now, football, basketball, and baseball metaphors have been most common. There simply aren’t a whole lot of CrossFit success metaphors or lessons… Now there are! [Tweet This]

But wait! What’s CrossFit?

It’s kind of a craze. Still, if you’re not up on your lifestyle news, or if you’re not watching The Biggest Loser, here’s a quick overview. Basically, CrossFit is the “sport of fitness.” It is overall conditioning to prepare people for a high level of general (even elite) fitness. Among the activities it includes are: Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, tire flips, rope climbing, dumbbell swings, handstands, pull-ups, box jumps, broad jumps … and oh yeah, running!!

Each day, select elements will be combined into a Work Out of the Day (WOD), which may be scored in rounds, repetitions, or time. Each group class run during the day does the same WOD, and scores are posted for all to see.

I’ve been doing CrossFit for two and a half years now, and found it more physically challenging than anything I’ve ever done. Reflecting on my progress, recently, I had the insight that CrossFit offers some great lessons for career success. Here are eight:

“Just Do It” is incomplete advice.

I’ve always admired Nike’s well-known philosophy, especially for it’s action orientation. Yet, when it comes to CrossFit, there is definitely a learning curve. Moves can be complex, so you need time to develop your skills. In CrossFit, if you “just do it,” you’re gonna get hurt. [Tweet This] Success lesson: Even though you may be eager to make your mark, success means investing time to learn. Make sure you know what you’re doing.

There’s always a mod.

Because they’re complex, CrossFit movements can take a while to learn. Initial lacks in strength, skill, or both can make it even harder. At the start, some people (well, okay, me!) can’t do all of the moves. So, to progress, it can be necessary to work through a series of modified movements. Success lesson: To become a master at what you do, take the time to polish the component skills that lead to expert performance.

You’ve got to win the mental game.CrossFit Success Lessons

There are CrossFit moves that look …well, okay … are scary.  For example, doing a handstand push up, or even just a handstand against a wall. Even with steady strength gains, and progress on mods, the biggest obstacle can often be the mental block. Success lesson: You won’t succeed until you believe you will. [Tweet This]

Coaching makes a difference.

CrossFit classes are run by experienced coaches, and often the better the coach the greater your progress. But you need to be open to coaching. Because when your coach is continually telling you to squat lower, jump higher, and move faster, it can make you want to give up. CrossFit is not about glowing performance reviews. It’s about performance. [Tweet This] Success lesson: Your long-term performance and success will gain the most from the honest feedback of an effective coach – even if it’s uncomfortable at the time.

Find inspiration in others.

Usually, classes have people at mixed performance levels. Some people will move quickly and more precisely. They will also lift the heaviest weights…and let’s face it, look the most awesome too! It can be intimidating, or it can be inspiring. If you draw inspiration, your experience will be positive, and your progress better. Success lesson: There will always be people who perform better than you do. Find inspiration in that, and learn from them. [Tweet This]

It’s a community, make sure to belong.

Like any community, CrossFit has people from an array of backgrounds. Yet, each is dedicated to fitness and sport, including the bonds it can form. People are there for each other. So, oh, by the way, those people who finish first will usually be the ones who stick around to encourage people who are struggling! Success lesson: Your success can only be as great as your community. [Tweet This] So, foster meaningful relationships and mutual support.

You are your own best competition.

Yes, I know, there are the CrossFit games. And like any competition, there will those who win the medals and those who don’t. Yet, people like Shana Alverson, have a different perspective:  For her, it’s Shana versus the workout. Ultimately, competing against the workout is actually competing against yourself. Success lesson: You only get better by doing better. Every time. [Tweet This]

It never ends.

As a CrossFitter, you know you can always improve – and you want to. You can get better, stronger, faster, and more precise. While you may pursue elite fitness, you know there is no perfect fitness. Every workout is a chance to become better, even if just a little. Success lesson: You can always develop yourself. When you don’t believe there’s room for improvement, you’re finished. [Tweet This]


  1. says

    First off I would like to say superb blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing.

    I’ve had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin.

    Any ideas or tips? Kudos!

    • says

      Thanks, Jillian, for your kind words about my blog!! I’m happy you enjoy it!!

      You raise a good question, though I think you might be surprised by the answer. Like you, it can often take me 10 to 15 minutes to figure out how to begin. No, really!!

      The main strategy I’ve used to combat that is to jot down points I want to make in a post, and think about conversational openings in my head – before I even attempt writing. When I do write, I just get the content out.

      It’s only after a first draft that I get centered. Then it becomes a matter of crafting the message for clarity (or at least as much clarity as my talent allows).

      Interestingly, for me others I know, every post requires believing you will succeed. Just like CrossFit!!

  2. Anyana Banerjee says

    Walter! Great article and great tips for both Crossfit and life. Am going to share your article for sure.



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